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1 Jun, 2019 14:56

China’s first domestically-built polar icebreaker takes to the sea for maiden voyage (VIDEO)

China’s first domestically-built polar icebreaker takes to the sea for maiden voyage (VIDEO)

The first polar research vessel and icebreaker built in China has set sail for its first 12-day trial voyage.

The ‘Xue Long 2’ left Shanghai on Friday and reportedly boasts a remarkable ability to turn quickly – a useful trait when navigating iceberg-laden waters.

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The 122 meter-long boat is designed for 60-day expeditions, and is specially equipped to navigate polar climates with two-direction ice breaking capabilities. Operating in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius and breaking 1.5-meter-thick ice at speeds of 2-3 knots, Xuelong 2 can displace up to 14,000 tonnes of ice.

The vessel, which has been under construction since 2016, was built by Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard Group, making it the first ship of its kind to be built by a Chinese company. Beijing’s sole currently active icebreaker, the first ‘Xue Long’, was made in Ukraine in the early 1990s.

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China’s aim to construct more icebreakers comes at a time of renewed global competition in the Arctic, as major players like Russia and the US have announced plans to boost their military presence there, and bolster economic exploration of the resource-rich polar region.

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